University of Cambridge > > Core Seminar in Economic and Social History > Capitalism in a Colonial Context: African Merchants in Lagos, 1851–1921

Capitalism in a Colonial Context: African Merchants in Lagos, 1851–1921

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This talk advertises a neglected subject: the role of entrepreneurs in Africa’s long-run development. It analyses the careers of 100 African merchants in the port-city of Lagos between 1851 and 1921 and a revises received opinion about their fortunes. They did not decline, nor did sole-ownership constrain their activities. They made the first attempts to diversify the economy and ensured that limited companies could be registered locally. All firms, indigenous and foreign, struggled during the inter-war period. Lagos merchants adapted by becoming financiers and rentiers. In doing so, they made a vital contribution to the large and diverse economy that characterised Nigeria after 1945.

This talk is part of the Core Seminar in Economic and Social History series.

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